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Franklin J. Schaffner
A flying boat has to ditch off an island in the Pacific. Along with the injured owner-pilot the passengers include a policeman and his smuggler prisoner, a slimey limey witness against him, a physicist, and a globe-hopping good-time girl. On the island they find a fleet of derelict ships, farm animals tethered, and cameras in a lead-lined bunker and a stark realisation soon dawns. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nothing disastrous about this blend of disaster thrills and survivalist drama.
SOS Pacific is directed by Guy Green and adapted to screenplay by Robert Westerby from a story by Gilbert Travers Thomas and Bryan Forbes inputs additional dialogue and scenes. It stars Richard Attenborough, Pier Angeli, Eddie Constantine, John Gregson, Eva Bartok, Gunnar Möller, Clifford Evans, Jean Anderson, Harold Kasket and Cec Linder. Music is by Georges Auric and cinematography by Wilkie Cooper.
When a flying boat encounters mid-air troubles it has to emergency land near an island in the Pacific. Apparently uninhabited, the island, as the survivors are soon to find out, has something shocking in store for all.
A little British cracker, SOS Pacific might be out dated now with its big reveal of theme, but it's a perfect example of how to make a tight thriller on a modest budget. It's very much a film of two halves. The first half plays out as a disaster movie, here we are introduced to the folk who will ultimately make up the survivors on the island. It's a roll call of stock formula characters; a tough copper and his cheeky but hero-in-waiting prisoner, a good time girl, the weasel loose cannon who is also an informer, a prim and proper lady, a German physicist, the stoic and beautiful stewardess and the pilot with a drink problem! Familiar characters to a degree, but well blended and fleshed out by the astute Guy Green (A Patch of Blue) who deftly piles tension on top of tension with each passage of story.
After the back stories involve us we then get the mid-air dramatics and the surprise that's awaiting us all on the island. Once there the characters shift in tone, they have to for various reasons, and then we are treated to heroics, suspicions, sacrifices, fights, hysteria and a thrilling "ticking clock" type finale. Wilkie Cooper's (I See A Dark Stranger/Green For Danger) black and white photography accentuates the sweaty atmospheric mood, and Auric (The Innocents) scores it in 2 x 2 thriller/drama fashion. Cast performances are uniformly good, with the stand outs being Constantine who makes for a good Bondian type alpha male, Attenborough a telling slime-ball and the gorgeous Angeli as the pivotal lady of the piece.
Some of the dialogue is twee and the model work is not high grade stuff, while unlikely coincidences are evident throughout, but this is definitely worth seeking out by anyone interested in tight and taut British thrillers. 7.5/10
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